The Business Travel Magazine April/May 2019

online.magazines

Overseas / Rail travel

[ INTERNATIONAL MARKETS ]

FOREIGN EXCHANGES

Rail travel overseas could become a more viable option for business

travellers in the coming years, says Dave Richardson

Further deregulation of rail travel

within the EU will make it a more

viable option for business travel

from 2020, while Asia could be a big rail

market for the future.

Amadeus has become established as the

leading GDS platform for rail. Eve-Marie

Morgo, Head of Marketing for Amadeus

Rail, says deregulation will improve the

passenger experience in various ways.

“Firstly, it will encourage operators to

adopt a more customer-centric approach

and investment in technology will be an

important differentiator,” she explains.

“Operators that can offer international

distribution enabling cross-border travel,

multi-language website services and mobile

ticketing will be well-placed in this respect.

“Secondly, deregulation will improve

service quality as it will not only foster

competition among rail operators but also

encourage co-operation.”

Morgo continues: “Rail operators are

collaborating with air, coach travel and

ride-sharing services, and we anticipate they

will see the benefit of allowing passengers

on connecting journeys to transfer to a later

service without penalty, should their first

journey be cancelled or delayed.”

Where competition already exists it has

been beneficial. In Sweden, passenger

numbers have increased while prices have

dropped, while in Italy, NTV Italo became

the first private company to challenge the

state-owned operator and fares fell by 30%.

The UK, Europe’s most mature privatised

rail market, has been beset by a lack of

innovation, with ticket prices the most

expensive in Europe,” says Morgo.

Amadeus has partnered with China

Railways to become the first technology

platform distributing its content outside

the mainland, but Morgo says the Asian rail

market is fragmented.

The planned Kunming-Singapore railway

connecting China, Singapore and mainland

South East Asia will be a significant move

towards greater integration,” says Morgo.

Sabre and Travelport are also significant

players in rail, especially in Europe. Sabre

doesn’t yet offer rail content in China or

India, but now has direct integration with

RZD, the Russian State Railway, offering

real-time availability for domestic and

international routes. Travelport is looking at

China and other Asian markets, and has

already increased its rail content in the US.

Trainline users can now book rail in 44

countries, its latest deal being with ticketing

agency Real Russia.

French rail operator SNCF has introduced

an online booking platform called OUI,

which covers much of Europe. Apart from

Eurostar, its most popular routes for UK

business travellers are Paris-Lyon, Paris-

Bordeaux, Lille-Paris, and Paris-Brussels by

international operator Thalys.

Strong business travel growth of 12%

underpinned a record total of 11 million

passengers for Eurostar in 2018. London-

Paris and London-Brussels remain popular,

whereas London-Amsterdam, launched last

year and with a third daily frequency

starting in June, is more of a leisure route.

Deregulation will

improve service

quality as it will not only

foster competition among

rail operators but also

encourage cooperation”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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